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Every year around July, Hindus celebrate the Rath Yatra festival with great artistry and devotion. (‘Rath’ means chariot, and ‘Yatra’ means pilgrimage or procession.) This ‘Festival of Chariots’ marks the ritual procession of the sacred images at Puri in Orissa, India from the Jagannath Mandir to the nearby Gundicha Mandir. It was also celebrated at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London on Saturday 13 July 2013.
A beautifully decorated chariot with the sacred image of Bhagwan Swaminarayan had been artistically prepared. Following a short traditional Vedic ceremony, the chariot was ceremoniously pulled by hand around the Mandir complex to the singing of devotional songs by sadhus and devotees.
After circling the Mandir five times, the devotees ended the festival with a devotional dance.
The celebrations invoked cherished memories of the Rath Yatra celebrations held at the Mandir and around the city of London in the presence of His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj in 2004.